Words are ghosts that will come back to haunt you, or so I quickly learned after I had been interviewed by a reporter with the BBC. She had been referred to me from a friend, who had declined the interview, and prior to sitting down with the tape recorder, we chatted seemingly aimlessly, developing a good rapport with each other. To my surprise, when the actual interview was conducted on tape, the reporter introduced a topic we had spoken about earlier; this took me off-guard especially as I didn’t want to share my answer with the world at large. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, as both “rapport” and “report” share a Latin etymological root meaning “to bring or carry back.”
In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I have never read a single book by Mark Haddon, yet I question his ability to choose words wisely when writing. Perhaps he felt an email gave him the luxury to sling words fast and furious, without any thought of the import or meaning behind them. I suspect his comments referencing artists who paint watercolors of animals, cats in particular, are words that may come back to haunt him. Why? The art history chronicles are filled with the names and works of esteemed artists who have painted cats, both in watercolor and in other mediums, so perhaps Mr. Haddon might want to re-think his analogy.
One of the treasures in the British Museum is by a no lesser-talented artist than Leonardo Da Vinci included a drawing of a cat sitting with the Christ Child on the lap of the Madonna in his Virgin and Child with Cat . (AD 1478-81) Unfortunately, no painting of this study has survived or been subsequently discovered, although Rembrandt later was inspired to create an etching also entitled Virgin and Child with a Cat. (1654).
Other artists, such as Matisse, Goya, and Manet painted cats using their own particular style to capture the essence of the animal. Henri Matisse’s Girl with A Black Cat, was completed in 1910, and is presently in private collection.
Even Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Pablo Picasso shared an affection for cats, as evidenced by the number of paintings and drawings both artists created that included felines. Similarly, Theophile Alexandre Steinlen, the esteemed Swiss illustrator and collaborator of Emile Zola and Toulouse-Lautrec, is noted for his highly collectible paintings, posters and sculptures of cats.
One of my favorite paintings by Pierre Bonnard , a member of Les Nabis, can be found in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris. Characteristic of his colorful narrative paintings of interiors, the cat’s presence acts as an animated distinction to the immobility and calmness of his wife, Marthe.
Recently I discovered the work of the Key West Artist, Bill Borough whose website is http://www.keywestwatercolors.
True diplomacy, like great art, involves having the sense to know how to express ideas succinctly and to restrain from the tendency to speak without knowledge of one’s subject, always opting to remain silent, when appropriate. Therefore, like a cat, I’ll now opt to remain silent and hope that the next time a writer addresses a wider audience, words are chosen wisely instead of in dismissive haste.